Sharqīyah, Ash-


Sharqīyah, Ash-

also spelled  Sharkia,  

      muḥāfaẓah (governorate) of the eastern Nile River delta, Lower Egypt, touching the Mediterranean Sea just west of Suez. In the northeast it includes a part of the large Lake Manzala, a brackish coastal lagoon. Its chief port is Al-Manzilah, at the head of a branch railway from Al-Manṣūrah on the Damietta branch of the Nile.

      Before it was split up during the medieval Fāṭimid period, the territory included Ad-Daqahlīyah and other Nile delta districts; Al-Qalyūbīyah was separated in AD 1315, at which time it was renamed Ash-Sharqīyah (Eastern). In the European Middle Ages the area witnessed numerous Coptic and Arab uprisings, and it has served as an invasion route for foreign armies. Bilbays, a former capital of Ash-Sharqīyah and a medieval fortress town, lies in the southeast, 30 miles (50 km) northeast of Cairo. During the 19th century, Bilbays was supplanted as capital by Az-Zaqāzīq, a rail centre 13 miles (22 km) to the north-northwest.

      Ash-Sharqīyah is densely populated. The flat, alluvial muḥāfaẓah supports a variety of irrigated crops, including cotton, corn (maize), rice, wheat, soybeans, peanuts (groundnuts), sesame, and citrus fruits. Ducks and chickens are raised, and Lake Manzala supports fishing. Fish farming has also been introduced. Industries in the muḥāfaẓah include food processing, beer brewing, and electrical-components manufacturing. Several irrigation canals cross the muḥāfaẓah, including the Sharqīyah, which partly follows the bed of the old Pelusiac channel of the Nile. The major east-west canal is the Ismailia Canal, linking Ismailia on the Suez Canal with Az-Zaqāzīq through Wadi Tūmīlat. It follows the course of a canal dug in ancient times. Area 1,614 square miles (4,180 square km). Pop. (2006) 5,340,058.

      region, eastern Saudi Arabia. The region includes most of the desert Rubʿ al-Khali (the Empty Quarter) and extends southward from a neutral zone jointly administered with Kuwait to indefinite borders with Yemen and Oman. It is bounded by Kuwait on the north, the Persian Gulf on the east, and the Ar-Riyāḍ region on the west. Ash-Sharqīyah consists mainly of an undulating plain covered with sand and gravel and is characterized by scattered dry wadis and sebkhas (flat saline plains). In the north of Ash-Sharqīyah lies the rocky Summam plain, but toward the east the terrain changes to flat lowlands marked by numerous fertile oases; Al-Hasa is a large oasis in the centre of the region. The Persian Gulf coast is mostly shallow with coral reefs.

      In the late 18th century, the Wahhābīs (Wahhābī), a Muslim puritanical group, conquered the region. After their defeat in 1818 and until World War I, the Ash-Sharqīyah came under a loose Ottoman sovereignty that was interrupted by the periodic return of Wahhābī control. The Wahhābī leader, Ibn Saʿud, incorporated Al-Hasa oasis into his expanding principality of An-Najd before World War I.

      Ash-Sharqīyah is one of the four main geographic regions of the country and comprises the principal petroleum-producing (petroleum) areas of Saudi Arabia. The wealth produced from extensive oil deposits, discovered in the 1930s, transformed Ash-Sharqīyah into one of the kingdom's most progressive regions. Many oilfields, including Al-Ghawār (among the world's largest), are operated by the the Arabian-American Oil Company. The petroleum is shipped from Ras Tanura via the Trans Arabian Pipeline (Tapline) to Sidon, Lebanon. Major towns in the region include Ad-Dammam, the largest petroleum centre in the nation and a major port on the Persian Gulf; Al-Hasa, the largest oasis in the kingdom; Al-Hufūf, a former administrative centre; Al-Mubarraz, an agricultural centre; and the oil centres of Aẓ-Ẓahrān and Al-Qaṭīf. A railway, completed in the 1950s, links Ad-Dammam with Aẓ-Ẓahrān, Al-Hufūf, and Riyadh. Aẓ-Ẓahrān has an international airport.

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Universalium. 2010.

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